Revolvers vs. Semi-Autos Part 1
Origin of an age old debate
By Dennis Adler
While it might sound far fetched, if these three air pistols were their actual centerfire counterparts, this trio of pistols and the two holsters, copied from originals, could have been photographed more than 100 years ago. By 1914 lawmen working still mostly untamed areas along the Texas-Mexico border were packing Colt Single Action revolvers and Colt Model 1911s. The holsters, hand-crafted in Spain, are copied from originals pictured in the book Packing Iron.
This is a debate that has, believe it or not, been ongoing for more than 100 years! The greatest difference in the 21st century, however, between revolvers and semi-autos is how they work, not what they shoot. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, semi-autos were small caliber pistols, the .25 Auto developed in 1900, .32 Auto developed by John M. Browning in 1897, .380 ACP developed by Browning in 1908, and in Germany, the largest caliber, 9x19mm (9mm Parabellum) developed by Georg Luger in 1903; were cartridges made specifically for use with a self-loading pistol. Over the next century advances in cartridge design, the development of revolver cylinders built to load semi-auto ammo (Colt and S&W models built during WWI and WWII to chamber .45 ACP) and finally modern alloy and polymer frame revolvers, have given rise to wheelguns that shoot semi-auto cartridges in 9mm, 10mm, .40 S&W and .380 ACP. But, this is 21st century pistol technology, technology that has marginalized many of the distinctions between wheelguns and semiautomatics in respect to caliber options, handgun sizes, and practical carry.